Two young men visited the shop-cum-residence of Aijaz Ahmed Reshi this morning and pumped two bullets into his head, sending shock waves through the state's 'apple town', barely 52 km from capital Srinagar.
The incident came within 24 hours of unidentified gunmen killing Mehraj-ud-din-Bhat, a former militant, who ran a poultry shop in Badamibagh. Reshi, an ex-militant of banned Harkat-ul-Mujahideen terror group, was running a provisional store after having served a five-year prison term.
A father of five girls, Reshi was opening his shop when the two assailants approached and killed him. As the news of Reshi's killing spread like wildfire through the town, the locals began a shutdown demanding those behind the recent killings be apprehended.
The separatist groups have blamed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's remark about neutralising terrorists using terrorists for the sudden spurt in the killings. Hizbul Mujahideen faction led by Qayyum Najjar also known as 'Qayuum Nazarwala' is alleged to be behind the spate of killings in the town.
Earlier, on Friday night, suspected ultras shot dead another shopkeeper while a government employee, who was an activist of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, was killed on Tuesday. Nazarwala, a resident of Sopore, is believed to have fallen out with Hizb chief Syed Salahuddin after the recent attacks on telecom towers and people who had allowed those on their land, police sources said.
According to intelligence reports, Nazarwala had prepared a hit-list of people who he claimed were helping security agencies track down the movement of the terror group through equipment placed in these towers.
The list had been rejected by Salahuddin as it contained names of some prominent Hurriyat and Jamaat leaders whose killing could have discredited the group and possibly invited a backlash.